Bursaries for 320 children of current and former offenders

Each student gets up to $500; 2,000 have benefited since 2011

Since the inception of the Industrial & Services Co-operative Society Bursary Awards in 2011, more than $600,000 has been given to around 2,000 children whose parents are incarcerated or who are former offenders.
Since the inception of the Industrial & Services Co-operative Society Bursary Awards in 2011, more than $600,000 has been given to around 2,000 children whose parents are incarcerated or who are former offenders.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Things were looking grim for Dani earlier this year when his teacher told him he might not be able to make it to secondary school next year as he scored less than 20 out of 100 in maths, his weakest subject.

Mum Sara had contemplated sending 12-year-old Dani (not his real name) for tuition but was deterred by the costs. "The tuition fees were quite expensive - I didn't have the means," said Madam Sara, who works as a boutique manager and has been raising her four sons single-handedly since her husband was incarcerated in 2016.

She applied to enrol her son in a sponsored tuition scheme under the Fairy Godparent Programme run by Iscos ReGen Fund, the charity arm of the Industrial and Services Co-Operative Society (Iscos).

Dani sat his Primary School Leaving Examination earlier this year, passed maths and was accepted into the Normal (Academic) stream at Woodlands Secondary School.

He is one of 320 primary, secondary and tertiary students who received the Iscos Bursary Award yesterday. The value of the awards ranges from $200 to $500, depending on the educational level.

Since the award's inception in 2011, more than $600,000 has been given to around 2,000 children whose parents are incarcerated or who are former offenders.

The award is one of the initiatives launched under the Fairy Godparent Programme - which include enrichment workshops, home improvement projects and sponsorships.

A pilot programme was also rolled out in July to offer after-school enrichment activities to students keen to pursue interests such as music, dance or sports. The programme will be extended to more students next year.

 
 
 
 

Ms Sun Xueling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development, said at the award ceremony at the HDB Hub auditorium in Toa Payoh: "These initiatives are anchored in the belief that every young person should have the opportunity and means to realise his or her fullest potential, regardless of his or her circumstances."

She added that the award recognises the resilience of pupils like Dani, who have overcome challenges and done well in their studies.

Mr Lim Hock Leng, managing director of Sheng Siong Group, which has supported the award since last year's edition, said he was struck by what he heard and saw during a visit to Changi Prison last year.

"There was a case where three generations - the grandpa, the father and the son - were incarcerated in the same prison," he said.

"We're trying to get to the root of these social problems, and I think education is key here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 22, 2019, with the headline 'Bursaries for 320 children of current and former offenders'. Subscribe